Geisler’s Five Ways – Part 14: More On Phase 4

Geisler’s Five Ways – Part 14: More On Phase 4 May 3, 2017

=====================

NOTE:

To avoid sounding overly aggressive and insulting,  I will not be repeating the evaluation that Dr. Geisler’s various arguments for the existence of God are a steaming pile of dog shit.  However, please understand that the fact that I refrain from writing such comments does NOT mean that no such thoughts come to my mind as I am reading and thinking about Dr. Geisler’s arguments; it just means that I am restraining myself from stating clearly and forcefully how I view his arguments, for the sake of etiquette and public decorum.

=======================

PHASE 4: ARGUMENTS FOR GOD’S ATTRIBUTES

Geisler wrongly believes that he has proven the claim that “God is a necessary being” in Phase 3 of his case for God in When Skeptics Ask (hereafter: WSA).  He then procedes to argue from this assumption to claims about various metaphysical attributes of God:

  • God is unchanging.
  • God is eternal.
  • God is unlimited.
  • God is infinite.
  • God is omnipresent.

Geisler also argues for the following conditional claims based on the assumption that “God is a necessary being”:

  • If God has power, then God is omnipotent.
  • If God has knowledge, then God is omniscient.
  • If God has some moral goodness, then God is perfectly morally good.

In Part 13 of this series, I argued that Geisler’s arguments for these conclusions failed:

  • God is unchanging.
  • God is eternal.

In this post,  I will argue that Geisler’s arguments for the following conclusions also fail:

  • God is unlimited.
  • God is infinite.
  • God is omnipresent.

Here is how Geisler argues for the first two of those conclusions:

Since a necessary being cannot not be, He can have no limits.  A limitation means “to not be” in some sense, and that is impossible–so He is infinite.  (WSA, p.27)

Phase 4 Argument #3

54b. There exists exactly one being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) AND the being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) is a necessary being.

70. A necessary being cannot not be.

THEREFORE:

71.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) cannot not be.

72. A being B has a limitation IF AND ONLY IF being B can be said “to not be” in some sense.

THEREFORE:

73.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) has no limitations.

74.  If a being B has no limitations, then being B is an infinite being.

THEREFORE:

75.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) is an infinite being.

First of all, this argument is based on a dubious and unpoven premise: premise (54b), so the whole argument rests on a shaky foundation.

Second, there must be a problem somewhere with this argument, because the same logic can be used to prove an absurd conclusion:

A. The number six is a necessary being.

70. A necessary being cannot not be.

THEREFORE:

81.  The number six cannot not be.

72. A being B has a limitation IF AND ONLY IF being B can be said “to not be” in some sense.

THEREFORE:

83.  The number six has no limitations.

74.  If a being B has no limitations, then being B is an infinite being.

THEREFORE:

85. The number six is an infinite being.

B.    There can be only one infinite being.  (according to Geisler: WSA, p.28)

C.    God is an infinite being. (according to Geisler: WSA, p.27)

THEREFORE:

86.  The number six is God. (!!)

The claim “The number six exists” is a necessary truth, so the existence of the number six is necessary; therefore, the number six is a necessary being.

But given Geisler’s logic and assumptions, it follows from the fact that the number six is a necessary being, that the number six is God!  But that is absurd.  God is a person, and the number six is NOT a person, so God cannot be the number six, and the number six cannot be God.  Thus, there must be at least one false premise or one invalid inference somewhere in Argument 3 of Phase 4.

If we clarify the premises of Geisler’s argument, we can see that there is at least one invalid inference in the argument.  Premises (70) and (72) are both in need of clarification.  First, let’s make it more clear that (70) is talking about existence:

70a. A necessary being cannot not exist.

Next, lets think about premise (72) to see if we can clarify that premise,  based on understanding the underlying logic of that premise:

72. A being B has a limitation IF AND ONLY IF being B can be said “to not be” in some sense.

A being might have a limitation related to knowledge, thus making the being fall short of possessing omniscience.  For example, a being might NOT know calculus, and thus fall short of possessing omniscience.  In this case, the being can be said “to not be” a being that knows calculus, and that would mean that this being has a limitation related to knowledge.

A being might have a limitation related to power, thus making the being fall short of possessing omnipotence.  For example, a being might NOT have the power to instantly create a universe out of nothing, and thus fall short of possessing omnipotence.  In this case, the being can be said “to not be” a being that has the power to instantly create a universe out of nothing, and that would mean that this being has a limitation related to power.

Note that a being that fell short of omniscience could, nevertheless, exist.  Note that a being that fell short of omnipotence could, nevertheless, exist.  So, lacking some power or characteristic that is required in order to have infinite power or infinite knowledge does not imply the non-existence of the being in question.  I am not omniscient, nor am I omnipotent, but I do exist.  Thus, it appears that the phrase “not be” has a different meaning in premise (70) than in premise (72), and thus Geisler’s argument is invalid because of the fallacy of equivocation (if I had a nickel for every equivocation fallacy by Geisler, I could buy Bill Gates’ house on Lake Washington).

Here is a clarified version of Argument 3 of Phase 4 that makes the invalidity of Geisler’s logic more obvious:

Phase 4 Argument #3 RevA

54b. There exists exactly one being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) AND the being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) is a necessary being.

70a. A necessary being cannot not exist.

THEREFORE:

71a.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) cannot not exist.

72a. A being B has a limitation related to characteristic C IF AND ONLY IF being B can be said “to not be” a being with property P, where P is a property that B must have in order to have characteristic C to an infinite degree.

THEREFORE:

73.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) has no limitations.

74.  If a being B has no limitations, then being B is an infinite being.

THEREFORE:

75.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) is an infinite being.

Premise (71a) has no logical connection with premise (72a), because (71a) is talking about EXISTENCE, while (71a) is talking about having, or not having, some PROPERTY or characteristic.  Therefore, the inference from (71a) and (72a) to (73) is logically invalid, and this argument fails, like every single other argument that Geisler has presented in his case for God.  Geisler has yet again committed the fallacy of equivocation, because he plays fast-and-loose with the meanings of words and phrases, such as the phrase “not be”.

Argument 3 of Phase 4 clearly FAILS because (a) it is based on a dubious and unproven premise, premise (54b), and because (b) the logic of the argument is invalid.

Here is Geisler’s argument about omnipresence:

Also, He can’t be limited to categories like “here and there,” because unlimited being must be in all places at all times–therefore, He is omnipresent.  (WSA, p.27-28)

 

Phase 4 Argument #4

73.  The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) has no limitations.

THEREFORE:

76. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) has no limitations related to its location.

77. A being that has no limitations related to its location must be in all places at all times.

78.  A being that is in all places at all times is an omnipresent being.

THERFORE:

79. The being that caused the universe to begin to exist (a long time ago) is an omnipresent being.

This argument is better than most given by Geisler in his case for God.  The main problem is that the initial premise (73) is controversial and questionable, and Geisler has failed in his previous attempt to provide a sound argument for (73).  So, this argument rests on a shaky foundation.

Premise (77) is not Geisler’s wording; it is my attempt to use the logic that we uncovered in clarifying premise (72) in order to clarify this present argument.

There does seem to be a bit of a problem with the truth of premise (77), at least as I have worded it.  Being confined to a particular location seems to be a kind of limitation.  We put people in prison, for example, to confine them, to limit their freedom.  As human beings, one aspect of our freedom and power is to be able to LEAVE a particular location when we wish to do so.  I can pick up my marbles and go home, if I get mad and don’t want to play anymore.  If a being MUST be in a particular location, then that being is confined to that location, and is not free to leave that location.  Thus it seems to be the case that a being that “has no limitations related to its location” would be a being that is able to leave a location and NOT be present at that location, whenever the being wishes to do so.  Thus, it is not clear to me that (77) is true.

Perhaps premise (77) could be modified to get around this objection.  I’m not sure.

My main objection to Argument 4 of Phase 4 is that it is based on the questionable and controversial premise (73), for which Geisler has failed to provide a solid argument.

"Eating, drinking, and breathing through the same tube, leading some number of infants and toddlers ..."

A Knock-Down Argument Against Intelligent Design
"That’s a far better refutation of that attempt than what I came up with."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."
"The most ridiculous attempt I’ve read at justifying the Gospels? The insistence that the claims ..."

Defending the Swoon Theory – Part ..."
"Not being gay, this argument is meaningless to me. I speak solely of my situation ..."

A Knock-Down Argument Against Intelligent Design

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment